Speed bumps installed on Dolores Street hill after multiple serious skateboarding injuries [Updated]

Speed bumps installed on Dolores Street hill after multiple serious skateboarding injuries [Updated]
Photos: Teresa Hammerl/Hoodline
By Teresa Hammerl - Published on July 20, 2020.

Each July, San Francisco's skateboarders gather for the "Dolores Hill Bomb," a skating event that involves speeding down the hilly portion of Dolores Street between 19th and 21st streets. 

The event is informally organized within the city's skating community, and this year, it's occurred on multiple days — likely due to pent-up demand from skateboarders kept indoors by the COVID-19 pandemic.

It's also famously dangerous. Last year, popular skateboarder and artist Tomoko Oikawa suffered severe brain trauma after she "took a rough fall" on the hill bomb, according to a GoFundMe campaign created to support her. In 2017, a skater was severely injured after colliding with a police car. 

This year, the hill bomb has been more dangerous than ever. On Friday, multiple people were hurt, and at least one person suffered life-threatening injuries, in incidents involving skateboarders near Dolores Park. 

That's on top of the weekend prior when, "multiple people were transported to SF General with serious injuries, including someone who is still there in a coma," District 8 Supervisor Rafael Mandelman said on Facebook on Friday night. 

As a result, the SFMTA has intervened. Over the weekend, the agency installed metal speed bumps at 20th and Dolores streets, aimed at deterring skateboarders from attempting the hill bomb.

"I hate doing this to Dolores," SFMTA director Jeffrey Tumlin wrote on Twitter, citing his appreciation of the city's world-renowned skate culture.

He said he'll be working with leaders about how to promote a safer culture for skateboarders. He also hopes to integrate their feedback into the rapidly expanding Slow Streets program, which closes streets to cars for socially distanced recreation. 

We also reached out to police for an update on Friday's incidents.

SFPD's Ofc. Adam Lobsinger said that the more serious of the two incidents occurred around 7:45 p.m., when a cyclist and skateboarder collided at Dolores and Cumberland streets. Both were men in their 20s, and both were injured, with the cyclist being hospitalized in life-threatening condition.

An hour later, Lobsinger said, a 14-year-old boy fell off his skateboard and crashed into the median at the same intersection. He sustained non-life-threatening injuries, and was taken to a hospital. 

As of Monday morning, no updates were available on the condition of the three patients.

Tumlin incorrectly stated on Twitter on Saturday that the hill bomb had led to "two pointless deaths." He added a correction a few hours later, stating that there were "life-threatening injuries," but "no confirmed fatality." 

The speed bumps with Dolores Park in the background.

On Twitter, Tumlin asked the local skating community to exercise caution. "SF skaters, we need help elevating bystanders' lives over your own risk," he wrote. "We have many hills. Work with us."

Mandelman noted on Facebook that in addition to skateboarders falling and bystanders being hit, "neighbors have been assaulted and nearby schools and homes have been damaged." 

"This has to stop," he wrote. 

Update 7/21: Andrew Sanders, the bicyclist injured in Friday’s crash, has died of his injuries, the Examiner reports. Asked for comment on Tuesday, an SFPD spokesperson was unable to confirm the fatality, or the identity of the skateboarder.

A group of friends gathered Sunday evening at 19th and Dolores streets, the site of Sanders’ collision with the skateboarder, to pay tribute.

At Tuesday’s SFMTA board of directors meeting, Tumlin confirmed the fatality and addressed the raised pavement markers.

The “best-skilled skateboarders can still get over it,” he said. “But those were not the skateboarders on Friday.”

Update 7/22: On Wednesday, police confirmed that on Sunday the 23-year-old bicyclist succumbed to his injuries. 

Police also said a third incident occurred last Friday. At around 6:45 p.m., a bicyclist crashed into a pedestrian at Dolores and Cumberland streets. The pedestrian, a 27-year-old man, was taken to a local hospital with life-threatening injuries. The bicyclist fled the scene prior to police arrival and no description of the suspect is available at this time.